This week in Wisconsin economic development

Given the state’s understandable concern with economic growth, I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight this week’s developments.

  • Wisconsin drops to the bottom of all states in new business startups, according to the Kauffman Foundation. Milwaukee is ranked 39th out of the country’s 40 largest metropolitan areas in startups.
  • WEDC has written off $7.6 million in loans in the last four years. That’s one way to make your balance sheet look better, I guess. Meanwhile, the Assembly defeated on a party line vote a resolution requiring WEDC to provide records on unsecured or questionable loans.
  • Two Republican legislators, one with strong links to ALEC, have proposed abolishing the Legislative Audit Bureau, replacing it with Inspectors General at each agency. They claim their proposal has nothing to do with LAB’s recent harsh audits of WEDC, and is intended to uncover waste, management and abuse as it’s happening, instead of after the fact. “In many instances,” they say, “by the time an audit has occurred the political will (or new legislative composition) necessary to change a state program has diminished.” The bill would also allow “the Assembly speaker and the Senate majority leader to direct the inspectors to ‘audit the records of any state agency or program or any county, city, village, town, or school district.'” Nothing like hiding your faults instead of bringing them out into the open. Even after the first audit of WEDC, the agency did little to improve. How would having an Inspector General in place have made any difference? (As a point of information, I tried earlier this year to get information from the Department of Health Services’s Office of the Inspector General. Never got a return email or a return phone call. Maybe I wasn’t well-enough connected.)
  • Facing an $11.6 million deficit for next school year, Madison school officials are considering imposing the maximum property tax increase allowable under state law as part of their approach to covering the shortage.
  • The Wisconsin legislature approved legislation allowing off-duty and retired police to carry guns on school property.
  • The Assembly repealed the 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases on a voice vote.
  • The Senate voted, on party lines, to ban abortion after 20 weeks, without exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother. Most legal experts contend that the bill would be struck down as unconstitutional. Scott Walker has indicated his readiness to sign the bill should it pass the Assembly, regardless of any constitutional challenge it would face. So the State of Wisconsin can anticipate more legal bills to cover fruitless defense of unconstitutional laws. Where have we heard that before?
  • The Assembly approved a bill that phases out the SAGE program in schools. The bill complements one passed by the Senate in May, and will go to the Governor for signing. The SAGE program provides aid to schools that maintain an 18-to-1 or 30-to-2 ratio for poor students in kindergarten through 3rd grade.
  • The Assembly also approved a bill that would prohibit state environmental officers from enforcing federal pollution limits on wood heaters. That bill has not yet passed the Senate.
  • Assurant Health announced that it would close its health insurance business over the next 18 months. Assurant Health has been unable to sell its individual health care policies under competition from the Affordable Care Act. The business closure will mean the loss of about 1000 jobs in Milwaukee.
  • The state continues to delay implementation of a new computer network; two systems will run in parallel from July 1 to as late as September 30, at an additional cost of $2.5 to $3.5 million.
  • A report from the Education Law Center indicates that Wisconsin still lags pre-recession funding for K-12 education.
  • On Thursday, Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) proposed ditching the alternative minimum tax as part of the state budget. He claims to be working on a “revenue neutral” proposal with Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), but since it was Rep. Kooyenga’s compression of the tax brackets a couple of years ago that made so many more people subject to the AMT, I am wary of his ability to make this proposal revenue neutral. And even he does manage to achieve this, Wisconsin will have lost a mechanism to ensure “that at least a minimum amount of income tax is paid by individuals who have large tax savings from the use of certain tax deductions and exclusions.” (Alternative Minimum Tax — LFB Budget Paper #316)
  • Finally, with regard to finalizing the state budget, Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald said on Tuesday, “I don’t know where we’re at.”

So, where’s the economic development? I sure don’t see it.


Related Articles

11 thoughts on “This week in Wisconsin economic development

  1. Walker took a losing job situation, bad budgets, huge deficits under the leftist Doyle rule and turned it around. Thats not easy to do. Take a look at Detroit, Baltimore, Milwaukee all Leftist ruled. Disasters. WE are heading in the right direction. We do not want to chase out our retirees and people that invest in Wisconsin for some silly Left theory.

    1. Walker turned what around? The next biennial budget proposed by Gov. Walker would increase state spending to the highest levels ever, and thanks to Gov. Walker’s budget debt service on the state’s transportation debt would reach 22 cents out of every dollar spent in the 2016-2017 biennium, which would be the highest level in our state’s history.

      I know you don’t like to deal in facts, but those are irrefutable facts, and they prove Gov. Walker isn’t as fiscally conservative as folks like you would have the rest of us believe.

    2. Translation: I can’t actually address the laundry list of Walker and the Wisconsin GOP’s ineptness using facts or reality, so I’ll continue trolling. Next, I’ll bring up Obama, not that he’s relevant to this topic, as that is the standard playbook put out by Charlie Sykes and Right Wisconsin.

  2. I see only “Eke-nomic devilment” by Fitzgerald and the GOP gang as they march backwards legislatively into a time warp and a Wisconsin great depression.

    “Oh the humanity!”

  3. Wow! it looks like anybody could see that the Republicans are killing Wisconsin government.

    But here’s the thing: When it comes to redefining marriage, living with homosexuals and killing babies, most Wisconsinites don’t think that killing government is such a bad thing. Thus, we have Governor Walker and his minions.

    1. It is milwaukee that is the problem, the place is disaster with high crime, bad schools etc. all the cause of the Left.

      1. LOL@this comment.

        You really are unhinged, aren’t you? You and I both know that if the shoe were on the other foot and we were talking about terrible economic development from a Democratic governor, you’d be blaming the governor, but since it’s “Saint Scott,” you want to blame anyone (or anything) but the governor.


  4. The latest report from the Congressional Joint Economic committee on job growth since February 2010 has a national rate of 11.5% compared to Wisconsin’s abysmal 8.0%.

    Walker’s failed promise of new job creation is a direct cause of that statistic.

    Who would want to move to Wisconsin with a Governor employing a “divide and conquer” attitude rather than a “unite and grow” strategy?

    Obviously, Walker, a zealot with a false conscience which believes any means are justified to accomplish his goal, is a fight looking for a place to happen. His infamous Act 10 reveals a public official who is unfriendly to workers, especially teachers. Walker’s false or immoral mindset and combative attitude has since been extended through new laws and the budgetary process harming the economic life and health of the elderly, women, people of color, the sick, the poor, and sadly, students of all ages.

    Walker has failed the men, women, and children of Wisconsin not only as its Chief executive, but as a human being.

  5. Oh and I’m sorry I forgot who reported it, but deer hunting in urban areas (regardless of proximity to schools and public areas) has made its way, magically, into the budget. Fiscal item extraordinaire.

    1. Here’s a report:

      I doubt car insurance will be reduced, sporting goods stores will prosper a bit, auto body shops and garden centers providing the plants for landscaping that deer love will likely suffer some loss of sales. Home gardeners may finally enjoy their salad greens and carrots. Motorcyclists should feel less vulnerable on the road. I wonder if hunters will need landowner permission to retrieve their kill if it crosses into any other’s backyard.

Comments are closed.